NicaNotes: Germany Buries the Evidence of Complicity in Genocide; Nicaragua Exposes It

By John Perry

(John Perry is based in Masaya, Nicaragua, and writes for the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, London Review of Books, FAIR, Covert Action Magazine and others.)

[This article has been published in Anti WarCounterpunch, Dissident VoiceResumen Latinoamericano and Tortilla con Sal as well as en español aquí.]

Carlos Argüello, Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Advisor to Nicaragua’s Foreign Ministry on International Law, explains that the object of Nicaragua’s suit against Germany is to create a precedent with wider application – that countries must take responsibility for the consequences of their arms sales. (Photo: Changing Times)

On April 11, Dr Ghassan Abu-Sittah, the British-Palestinian war surgeon, gave his first address as the newly-appointed rector of Glasgow University, chosen in recognition of his work at al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. The following day he flew to Berlin, where he had been invited to address a major conference on Palestine. On arrival he was taken away by police, interrogated for several hours and eventually told he had to leave Germany and wouldn’t be allowed to return until at least the end of April. Any attempt to speak to the conference via Zoom could result in a fine or even a year’s prison sentence. By the time he was released he couldn’t have taken part in the conference anyway, since it had been invaded by at least 900 police and closed down. Berlin’s mayor said that it was ‘intolerable’ that the conference was taking place at all.

Speaking about his experience afterwards, Dr Abu-Sittah referred to the fact that Germany had – also last week – been defending itself at the International Court of Justice against charges by Nicaragua that it is an accomplice to genocidal war. ‘This is exactly what accomplices to a crime do,’ he said. ‘They bury the evidence and they silence or harass or intimidate the witnesses.’

Watching the live feed of Germany’s lawyers at the Hague a few days earlier had been an odd experience. They gave the impression of feeling affronted that Germany had been accused of such crimes, especially by a small country which, they argued, had no stake in the case. Also, Israel could not yet be said to be committing genocide, because the ICJ has not yet determined the case brought against it by South Africa, which Germany had supported Israel in contesting. Because Israel was not party to the new case, it should simply be thrown out.

Some research might have given them a better appreciation of Nicaragua’s credentials to bring the case. Its mutual solidarity with Palestine goes back a long way. It also has more experience at the Hague than Germany, including its pioneer action against the US in 1984, when it won the case and an order for compensation later calculated to amount to £17 billion (that was never paid) for the damage done to Nicaragua by the US-funded Contra war and the mining of its ports. Carlos Argüello, who led the case last week and many of its previous cases (including the case in the 1980s), said that Nicaragua offered its expertise to Palestine and it had already joined in with South Africa’s action. It had decided to target Germany, the second biggest supplier of arms to Israel, because the US, the biggest supplier, is outside the court’s jurisdiction on this issue.

Argüello explains that the object is to create a precedent with wider application – that countries must take responsibility for the consequences of their arms sales to avoid them being used in breach of international law. Germany’s argument that legal action cannot proceed before South Africa’s earlier case is resolved is nonsense, since countries have an obligation to prevent genocide, not merely wait until it is proven to be happening. In any case, Germany must have been aware of the numerous warnings from senior UN officials of the imminence of genocide in Gaza, which began as early as October 9th.

Germany claimed that it has a “robust legal framework” in place to ensure its arms exports are not misused, and that sales to Israel are now restricted to non-lethal equipment. But any supplies being sent to a genocidal army are helping to sustain its criminal actions, Nicaragua replied.

Much was made of Germany’s historic obligations due to its Nazi history, but Argüello argues that these should relate to the Jewish people, not the Israeli state. He adds that Germany’s past might also oblige it to help prevent genocide wherever it might occur. Its government spokesman on the South Africa case had claimed that Germany is ‘particularly committed to the Genocide Convention’.

The economist Yanis Varoufakis was also banned from speaking in Berlin. He planned to conclude his speech by telling German politicians that ‘they have covered themselves in shame’ through their unflinching support for Israel’s atrocities. Carlos Argüello echoes this point when asked whether a decision by the ICJ can actually be enforced: We have to mobilize shame, he says, ‘…that’s the hope with this. Perhaps it’s being too idealistic, but it’s the only weapon we have’.

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NicaNotes Briefs
By Nan McCurdy 

Vaccination Campaign Goals Exceeded!
The brigades of the Ministry of Health (MINSA) and the Community Health Network have already administered more than two million vaccines and have surpassed the goal set for the National Vaccination Campaign. The weekend of April 20 and 21 the Ministry carried out the Campaign in all the municipalities of the country. The vaccination days were accompanied by parades, walks, floats, dances, piñatas and music. According to official MINSA figures, the goal was surpassed: a 100.6% compliance, applying 2,468,586 doses of vaccines. They also delivered 1,994,582 doses of anti-parasite medicine, and 632,498 doses of Vitamin A. The campaign continues this week until closing on Sunday, April 28. See photos: (La Primerisima, 22 April 2024)

Russia and Nicaragua Join Forces Against Imperialist Sanctions
On April 22, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Presidential Advisor and Special Representative of the President for Russian Affairs Laureano Ortega signed a declaration on ways to counteract, mitigate and compensate for the negative consequences of unilateral coercive measures, often called sanctions. The declaration stipulates that the use by any state of unilateral coercive measures is unlawful, contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and international law.  States are strongly urged to refrain from adopting, promulgating and applying UCMs that impede the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.

The declaration insists that any foreign judgments imposing unilateral coercive measures on other States shall not be recognized or enforced by national courts. State and private property and assets, including bank accounts, bonds, real estate, as well as consular and diplomatic premises and facilities, shall be immune and shall not be subject to freezing, seizure or any other form of confiscation or restraint arising from the implementation of unilateral coercive measures by any authority.

The declaration further says that states should develop a road map to reduce the dependence of international trade on national currencies that tend to be used for unilateral coercive measures or to sustain the monetary hegemony of a particular state over the world economy See a fuller summary of the declaration in Spanish: (La Primerisima, 22 April 2024)

Assemblies of God: Full Freedom of Worship in Nicaragua
The Evangelical Pentecostal Conference of the Assemblies of God of Nicaragua expressed publicly on April 16 that in Nicaragua there is full freedom of worship and every citizen is free in the exercise of their faith, without discrimination. Through a communiqué signed by its general secretary, Rev. Roberto Rojas, the Assemblies of God pointed out that their worship celebrations, the preaching of the Gospel and activities of a religious nature are carried out without restrictions. The Assemblies of God praises the climate of respect and tolerance that prevails in Nicaraguan society, allowing each individual to profess his or her faith according to his or her personal beliefs and convictions. The Assemblies of God communiqué recognizes the commitment of the Nicaraguan government to guarantee religious freedom and respect for the diversity of faiths present in Nicaragua. Likewise, the communiqué urges the entire population to continue promoting peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among all religious communities, fostering unity in diversity and cultivating fraternity among brothers and sisters of different faiths. (La Primerisima, 16 April 2024)

Exemplary Investment by Nicaragua in Potable Water
In many countries around the world, access to potable water is limited or even non-existent. However, in Nicaragua the supply of drinking water is a fundamental right that is assured to the population on a daily basis. Supplying water requires significant investments in electricity for pumping the water, for the construction of modern storage tanks, as well as for the installation and maintenance of pipelines. It is estimated that for every 1,000 liters of water, Nicaraguans pay the equivalent of US$0.27 – low because of government subsidies on drinking water rates – one of the cheapest in Latin America. The year 2024 marks an important milestone with the completion of 26 drinking water projects to improve service to homes, especially those located in the ‘Dry Corridor’ to guarantee a good water supply to more than 790,000 families. This year, 600 kilometers of pipelines are expected to be built, so more families will have access to water. (La Primerisima, 20 April 2024)

Neurosurgery Mega-fair Kicks off in Somoto
Hundreds of people arrived at the Juan Antonio Brenes Palacios Departmental Hospital in Somoto, Madriz, very early in the morning on April 20 to participate in the mega neurosurgery fair. The purpose of the event was to provide attention to people with brain problems, malformations in arteries and veins, spinal hernias, chronic pain, and neuralgia, among others. A team of 50 specialists in brain diseases and damage saw more than 600 patients from 69 neighborhoods and 380 communities of the nine municipalities of the department of Madriz. In addition, attention in natural medicine and complementary therapies was available. See photos: (La Primerisima, 20 April 2024)

Nearly 82% of Nicaraguans Approve of Ortega’s Administration
A total of 81.7% of the population approves of President Daniel Ortega’s administration, according to the latest survey released April 17 by the firm M & R Consultores. In the same poll, 91.1% consider that the government of Daniel Ortega generates hope. 80.2% of Nicaraguans believe that the Sandinista government is leading the country in the right direction. Likewise, 80.7% of those interviewed agreed that President Ortega is a democratic ruler who abides by the laws of the country. Also, 80.5% of the citizens consulted said that Ortega seeks unity and reconciliation among Nicaraguans. The survey indicates that 81.7% of the citizens surveyed consider that the Sandinista government takes into account the interests of the general population. In addition, 94.0% of those polled said that there is peace in Nicaragua and only 6.0% believe the opposite. 89.7% of Nicaraguans believe that there is freedom for people to think, say or do what they consider, within the framework of respect. See full report: (La Primerisima, 17 April 2024)

President Ortega In Venezuela for ALBA Meeting
At midnight on April 23, President Daniel Ortega arrived in Caracas to participate in the summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA). Most of the ALBA Heads of State are expected to participate in this ALBA summit. On April 23 the Prime Ministers of Antigua, Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Gaston Browne and Ralph Gonsalves, arrived for the meeting. Venezuelan Executive Secretary Jorge Arreaza delivered an inaugural speech entitled “The principle of unity as a transforming element” and stated that ALBA’s objective is to achieve self-determination, that “We should be free and happy with our needs satisfied.” He said that the ALBA strategy includes new projects to strengthen economic, health, education and environmental protection plans. ALBA is also establishing a network for the protection of human and social rights, and creating the ALBA Parliamentary Network and the ALBA-Youth space. The two-day meeting has attendance by 300 delegates from 60 countries and also by organizations and social movements, political parties, and others from the member states of the bloc and guests from Africa, Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America. (Radio La Primerisima, 24 April 2024)

More than 137,000 Homes Built for Families since 2007
In 17 years, the Sandinista Government has built 137,385 houses, announced INVUR (Institute of Housing) director Gabriela Palacios. The conditions and facilities for the housing sector have become more dynamic, which translates into more employment, economic stability and less poverty. She said that the year 2023 closed with the building of 7,952 houses. In the first quarter of 2024 INVUR has built 1,513 houses; the goal for 2024 is 7,674 houses. (La Primerisima, 22 April 2024)

Chinese Company to Build Solar Plant in Ciudad Darío
President Daniel Ortega authorized the Ministry of Energy and Mines to sign a contract with a Chinese company to design, supply and build a solar photovoltaic power generation plant with a capacity of 67.35 megawatts in Ciudad Dario, according to a decree published on Tuesday in the official government publication La Gaceta. Through the decree, President Ortega authorized the Director General of Electricity and Renewable Resources of the Ministry of Energy and Mines, Santiago Hernán Bermúdez Tapia, to sign a contract with the company “China Communications Construction Company Limited.” (La Primerisima, 23 April 2024)

Online Magazine Praises Nicaragua as Travel Destination
The online magazine Marie Claire highly recommends Nicaragua, headlining: “For an Adrenalin-Packed Vacation with Views, Visit Nicaragua’s Emerald Coast. Skip the Costa Rica Crowds in favor of this coastal hotspot.” It goes on to say: “Known for its exceptional surfing, the Emerald Coast of Nicaragua is a hidden gem along the Pacific coastline. Though still rugged, the area is quickly becoming a hotspot thanks to the resorts and charming restaurants popping up along the coast, bringing with them thoughtful architecture that pops against the landscape. If your favorite vacations lean adventurous, the Emerald Coast deserves a spot on your bucket list. From sandboarding and surfing to volcanic climbs and hikes through the unspoiled wilderness, the Emerald Coast offers once-in-a-lifetime views and experiences.” To read more: (Marie Claire, April 2024)